I grew up around guns, but I did not grow up hunting. Both my parents shoot guns, but neither hunt. My dad did some hunting when he was younger, and I may get him to take it up again, but he never took me. My papaw and an uncle of mine took me shooting almost every time I visited them, but outside of taking a few shots at squirrels in trees with an iron sighted 22 before I knew what I was doing, I didn’t do any real hunting.
In college, a lot of my fraternity brothers hunted, and I felt left out. After I graduated, I decided to do something about it. I’ll admit, going from a twice a year shooter to a hunter is no easy task, but its certainly possible. The first thing I did was head to the internet for some research. I decided to start with the shotgun. I knew I liked shooting shotguns, and thought duck and upland hunting would be eventual goals of mine. I started researching the best all around shotgun, so I could keep my options open as I learned more. I’d shot the Remington 870 with my relatives, and at Goshen Scout Camp, where I got shotgun merit badge. If you’re on a budget, its my opinion that you should look no further (I own one now, and will probably end up with a few more before all’s said and done). That said, I read a lot about clay and skeet shooters saying that having to operate a pump is difficult, particularly for a novice, and that an auto or over/under is preferable. I though I’d do at least as much sport shooting as hunting (I shoot clays pretty often now, and I’ve competed in tournaments twice) so I wanted a scattergat that could do it all. After much research, I decided on the Browning Maxus as an all around shotgun. Mine is the hunter model, 3.5 inch chamber, 28 inch barrel. I picked the maxus because of all the positive reviews, but I’d say it was luck as much as anything else. I’ve been quite happy with mine, and a buddy of mine got a similar one and likes his as well. I’ll let an expert tell you more about it if you’re so inclined:
Buying a firearm for the first time is a bit daunting, but it is not particularly difficult. The following link describes a purchase from a gun store, but it is quite similar to purchasing from a gun show, or private FFL:
I’ve purchased from a store (in the case of the Browning Maxus), a gun show, a private FFL, and via private sale. As a first time buyer, I found it easiest to purchase from a store. They helped walk me through the process, and answered all my questions.
As I mentioned before, I had some experience with firearms prior to buying my first gun. Even so, I took an exam at the NRA range in Fairfax, which goes over the basic tenants of firearm safety. I also took a learn to shoot class at Bull Run Shooting Center. I found this to be particularly helpful. The folks over at Bull Run Shooting Center are very friendly and helpful, and are happy to help novices in my experience.
After getting aquatinted with shooting again, and learning about my new shotgun, I took a lesson. To find an instructor, I just called Bull Run Shooting Center, and they gave me a phone number to call. I explained my goal to my instructor. I wanted to hunt doves and/or quail the following year. He taught me the fundamentals, and after maybe three one to two hour lessons, said he thought I’d be able to take some birds.
My next step was signing up for a Virginia Hunter Education class. It looks like you can do the whole class online now. I took the self study and learned in an actual classroom, which I found helpful, but I do admit that it was inconvenient to find an open class close to home.
With my own shotgun, safety knowledge, the fundamentals from my lessons, and my VA Hunter Education Certificate and License (they’ll teach you what you need and how to get it in the class), I was ready for my first hunt.
By searching online, I found a place that offers preserve (wild upland birds are hard to find in this area these days) quail, pheasant, and chukar hunting. I explained that I (and the other members of my party, fraternity brothers I convinced to join my quest to become a hunter) was a first time hunter. They said that would be no problem, and that they’d be happy to show us the ropes. We had a successful hunt, a great meal, and an amazing and unforgettable time on our first hunt.
Stay tuned… I’ll write up my first successful squirrel hunt (rifle hunting), and first dove hunt soon.This entry was posted in Hunting by rsiv with no comments yet